White House declines to conduct contact tracing for Rose Garden event, despite cluster of infection

Video: President Trump’s improving health suggests ‘the virus is now one we can handle’ (Sky News Australia)

President Trump’s improving health suggests ‘the virus is now one we can handle’

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Chris Christie et al. standing in front of a crowd: Chris Christie greets others after President Donald J. Trump spoke with Judge Amy Coney Barrett during a ceremony to announce Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House on Saturday, Sept 26, 2020 in Washington, DC.


Chris Christie greets others after President Donald J. Trump spoke with Judge Amy Coney Barrett during a ceremony to announce Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House on Saturday, Sept 26, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • The White House is not conducting contact tracing for its Sept. 26 Rose Garden event, The New York Times reported.
  • At least eight people who attended the event have tested positive for COVID-19, including President Donald Trump.
  • The event was held to announce the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Eight people who attended a Rose Garden ceremony less than two weeks ago have tested positive for COVID-19, including US President Donald Trump, but the White House has chosen not to conduct contact tracing, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Judd Deere, White House deputy press secretary, told Business Insider that the Trump administration “has plans and procedures in place that incorporate current CDC guidelines.”

The US Centres for Disease Control recommends that contact tracing be conducted for “close contacts,” defined as anyone who has spent at least 15 minutes within six feet of “laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients.” Close contacts are informed of potential exposure and instructed to self-quarantine, a process that “slows the spread of COVID-19,” according to the CDC.

Deere asserted that the White House “has established a robust contact tracing program,” but refused to say whether it has carried out contact tracing, specifically, for the Rose Garden event, per CDC guidelines.

“You have my answer,” he said in an email.

According to The Times’ reporting, based on another White House official’s statements, the answer is that no such work is being carried out for the Sept. 26 event, held to announce Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Instead, the White House is limiting itself to conducting tracing only for contacts “within a two-day window from diagnosis,” The Times reported, which appears to consist “mostly of emails notifying people of potential exposure.”

The CDC states that the coronavirus can incubate for two days to two weeks before a person shows symptoms or tests positive. On average, it takes four to five days.

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White House Is Not Contact Tracing ‘Super-Spreader’ Trump Rose Garden Event

“The list is names and email addresses. For robust contact tracing you need city and state,” one official said. “We basically say as much — we want and need more information.”

The officials said the state contacted the White House early Friday after learning of the president’s diagnosis and was told in a “blanket statement” that the “White House Medical Unit is doing all the contact tracing.”

“That doesn’t really satisfy us — particularly with the New Jerseyans,” the official said.

Mr. Deere, the White House spokesman, said: “A full contact tracing, consistent with C.D.C. guidelines, was completed for the Bedminster, N.J. trip. The President did not have any interactions with Bedminster staff or guests that would be considered to be ‘close’ based on CDC guidelines (more than 15 minutes and within 6 feet).”

He added, “All White House staff considered to be in close contact during this trip have been identified, contacted, and recommended to quarantine.”

At the event for Judge Barrett, guests, few of them wearing masks, mingled both outdoors and indoors, hugging and talking with heads close together. Over the next several days, at least eight attendees, including two senators, tested positive. On Monday, the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, became the latest.

The timing of the diagnosis of Mr. Trump’s illness makes it highly likely that he and the others became infected on Saturday, medical experts said. Symptoms typically appear around five days after exposure to the virus; Mr. Trump began showing symptoms on Thursday, “right smack dab in the day” he would be expected to, Dr. Maldonado said.

An outbreak investigation would help identify the source of the infections, said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden who led the C.D.C. under President Barack Obama.

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Why Won’t the White House Let the CDC Contact Trace Its Rose Garden Event?

But Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court.

—Edgar Allen Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death”

It is now more than a week since the White House hosted a Rose Garden ceremony to announce and celebrate the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. More than a dozen people who attended have tested positive for Covid since then, including the president of the United States, his campaign manager Bill Stepien, and his press secretary Kayleigh McEnamy, making this a possible “superspreader event.”

The Centers for Disease Control, standing by to send in a contact tracing team, has been rebuffed. In any other administration, we would call that very odd. In this administration, we call it unsurprising. Dr. Sean Conley said that contact tracing is underway internally, but multiple news sources have tried and failed to find anyone present at the event who was interrogated, and Conley’s reputation for truthfulness has taken a few hits this past weekend. CNN reports that it interviewed “more than half a dozen people who came into contact with Trump over the past week” yet “uncovered little more than a few phone calls and emails to potentially infected people encouraging them to get tested.”

Probably the White House is conducting something that it considers to be contact tracing. But whatever it’s doing clearly doesn’t come close to meeting the CDC’s guidelines, which is why it wants to keep the CDC out.

Why can’t real contact tracing take place? Because that would require various parties, starting with the president, to speak truthfully about when they learned they’d been exposed to someone with Covid; when they got tested; what type of test they received; and what precautions they took not to infect other people. All of which might furnish an uncomfortably precise answer to Howard Baker’s favorite Watergate question, “What did the president know and when did he know it?”

Perhaps other top officials in the White House could be counted on to speak truthfully if the president agreed to be truthful. But Donald Trump has never needed much encouragement to lie even about trivial matters. And this particular matter isn’t trivial. In this instance, the likeliest explanation for White House evasions on this matter is that Trump learned he’d been exposed to Covid much sooner than we’ve been told, and that he should have quarantined himself for most of last week.

Trump is already coming under heavy criticism for making various public appearances—a rally in Duluth, a fundraiser in Bedminster, N.J.—after he he knew Hope Hicks had Covid, or at least after he knew she was showing symptoms. We learned of Hicks’s infection not because the White House revealed it, but because a Bloomberg reporter found out about it. A public statement on Saturday about Trump having had Covid for 72 hours had to be walked

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White House Reporter Who Has COVID Says He Had No Contact Tracing From Trump Administration

New York Times White House correspondent Michael Shear says the Trump administration hasn’t reached out to him following a positive test for COVID-19, despite the need for contact tracing.



a man wearing a suit and tie: U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. The White House has been accused of not reaching out to an infected reporter.


© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for coronavirus. The White House has been accused of not reaching out to an infected reporter.

Shear, who is a political analyst for CNN, told the network’s John Berman on Monday that the White House had not made contact with him since his diagnosis. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have also tested positive.

“Ten days, 11 days, whatever since I think I was probably infected on that Saturday, I’ve not been contacted by the White House,” Shear said. “Nobody from the White House has said boo and asked anything about where I was or who I talked to or who else I might have infected.”

Trump Says He ‘Learned A Lot About COVID’ As He Visits Supporters Outside Hospital

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“So I think that that just shows you, you know, that they’re not taking it seriously, at least as it pertains to themselves,” Shear told Berman.

Berman explained that Trump spoke to reporters on Saturday and asked if the president was wearing a mask.

“He was not,” Shear said. “He was not wearing a mask and he spoke to us for about 10 minutes off the record.”

“Look, it’s hard to know, right, if he’d just been infected himself that day. The medical experts, I think, that you guys have been playing would suggest that he probably wasn’t very infective himself at that point.”

Shear went on to say he had taken a COVID test as required before getting on Air Force One and it was possible he ran into someone else at the White House who infected him.

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Trump announced his diagnosis on Twitter late on Thursday and was moved to Walter Reed Medical Center the following day. However, there has been confusion about when he knew he had COVID and the state of his health.

Shear earlier told The Washington Post that there was an “element of risk” in his job, saying: “There are some things the White House could have done to minimize the risk more.”

During the same CNN broadcast, host John Berman criticized the differing information coming from the president’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

“The one thing we now know for certain is that politics is superseding medicine here,” Berman said. “When Dr. Conley lies on Saturday and then gleefully admits to

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In the wake of Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, the White House has yet to mobilize a CDC tracing team to contact hundreds of people who were in the president’s company



a group of people sitting at a park: President Donald Trump and Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden at the White House on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Alex Brandon/AP Photo


© Alex Brandon/AP Photo
President Donald Trump and Judge Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden at the White House on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Alex Brandon/AP Photo

  • The White House is yet to deploy a ‘test and trace’ team of CDC experts following the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis, reported The Washington Post. 
  • The team’s function is to trace test those the president came into contact with while infected to stop the disease spreading further. 
  • Trump attended a fundraiser with 200 people and was in frequent contact with top officials while infected. 
  • Trump has long sought to downplay the seriousness of the disease that has killed more than 200,000 Americans. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The White House has yet to deploy a specialist Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) team to track and test those whom President Donald Trump came into contact with after being infected with the coronavirus. 

Two sources told The Washington Post Saturday that the CDC specialists’ team was on standby but had not yet begun to work tracing all of those the president came into contact with while infected. 

Contact tracing is one of the critical methods advocated by public health officials to contain the spread of coronavirus. The CDC in guidelines on its website says tracing “will be conducted for close contacts (any individual within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes) of laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients.”

It is not known precisely how or when Trump contracted the virus. Adviser Hope Hicks tested positive for the disease Wednesday and had traveled with the president to his debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday.

Following the debate, Trump took part in several public events, attending a fundraiser at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, with 200 people only hours before testing positive on Thursday.

The previous day the president had traveled to Minnesota. He held a rally in front of hundreds of supporters, many unmasked, and met top state Republicans at a campaign fundraiser.

Officials in states where Trump has held events recently told the Post that they had not been contacted by the White House about tracing the president’s contacts and were mainly acting independently to find them.

Video: Why the next 48 hours are ‘critical’ for President Trump’s COVID prognosis (FOX News)

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In the wake of the president’s diagnoses, several senior Republicans have also been found to be COVID-19 positive, including former presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, Senator Mike Lee, Senator Thom Tillis, Notre Dame University president John Jenkins, and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie. 

There is speculation that a White House ceremony a week before Trump’s diagnosis to announce Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, may have been the “superspreader” event where many became infected. 

At the event, few observed social distancing measures or wore masks, and some guests hugged

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Little evidence that White House has offered contact tracing, guidance to hundreds potentially exposed to Trump

In between, the president met with dozens of aides in meetings in which few people wore masks. He appeared before thousands at a rally in Minnesota. And he held a nationally televised debate with former vice president Joe Biden after holing up with debate preppers.

But there was little evidence on Saturday that the White House or the campaign had reached out to these potentially exposed people, or even circulated guidance to the rattled staffers within the White House complex.

It was the latest evidence of the administration’s casual and chaotic approach to the viral threat that has already claimed more than 200,000 lives in the United States.

The crisis within a crisis is emblematic of an administration that has often mocked or ignored the coronavirus guidance of its own medical experts. In this case, the failure to move swiftly potentially jeopardized the health of their own supporters and those close to them, who might fall ill and unwittingly spread the infection to others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a contact tracing team ready to go, according to multiple sources, but had not been asked to mobilize, even though White House physician Sean Conley said at a press briefing that his team was working with the agency.

Conley also said he was coordinating with local health agencies, but officials in Minnesota, Ohio and New Jersey, where Trump held events in recent days, said they haven’t heard from the White House and are racing largely on their own to find people potentially exposed to the virus.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said any positive test result on the complex is taken seriously and contact tracing is underway.

“The White House has plans and procedures in place that incorporate current CDC guidelines and best practices for limiting covid-19 exposure and has established a robust contact tracing program,” Deere said.

A CDC epidemiologist is detailed to the White House and additional assistance from the CDC will be requested “if necessary,” said an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal plans.

Numerous guests at the crowded Sept. 26 Rose Garden event at which Trump introduced Amy Coney Barrett as his high court nominee said they have not been contacted by anyone at the White House.

Prominent conservative leader Michael Farris interacted there with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who has tested positive for coronavirus, just before Lee gave two other people hugs. A video of Farris, who did not wear a mask, shows him scratching his nose after interacting with Lee. Farris said he is awaiting results of a test that will take another day to get results back, but he said he feels fine.

“There’s nothing fail-safe about any protocol, so I’m not upset,” Farris said.

One man who was pictured mingling in the front rows of the Rose Garden event, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private medical details, said he heard from no one from the government but his doctor had emailed

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White House initiated contact tracing after aide tested positive: spokeswoman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Contact tracing was put into place at the White House immediately after Trump aide Hope Hicks tested positive for coronavirus, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks in the Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 1, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

“Immediately there was contact tracing that was put into place and all of the necessary procedures,” McEnany said without elaborating on when Hicks received her positive result.

She said Trump got his positive result on Thursday night and “within an hour, we put out that information to the American people.”

In separate remarks to reporters, McEnany said it was considered safe for Trump to travel to his resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, for a private fundraiser on Thursday.

“It was deemed safe for the president to go. He socially distanced, it was an outdoor event and it was deemed safe by White House operations for him to attend that event,” she said.

She also told reporters she was not aware that Hicks had tested positive when she held a briefing at the White House on Thursday morning.

Trump did not participate in the one item remaining on his schedule on Friday, but McEnany said he had telephone calls with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham. She said he discussed emergency declarations and the coronavirus stimulus package with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

“We’re just trying to make sure that he takes it easy but he’s hard at work and will continue to,” she said on Fox.

She declined to say whether Trump would make a national address.

“It’s safe to say that you’ll be seeing and hearing from the president as he moves forward with his working schedule,” she said. “We’re exploring a number of different ways to do that, but he wants to talk to the American people.”

Reporting by Alexandra Alper, Steve Holland and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Diane Craft and Daniel Wallis

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Trump and first lady test positive for coronavirus, sparking White House contact tracing effort

Good morning, NBC News readers.

President Donald Trump and his wife Melania have tested positive for Covid-19, throwing the country’s leadership and the 2020 election into uncharted territory.

Here’s what we know so far.


President Trump and his wife Melania test positive for coronavirus

President Donald Trump announced just before 1 a.m. ET that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!” Trump tweeted.

The White House physician, Sean Conley, released a letter about Trump’s diagnosis, saying, “The President and First Lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.”

The announcement immediately throws into question the nature of the remaining 32 days of the campaign, including the last two presidential debates. The next one is scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami.

The news came shortly after the president said he and the first lady were in the “quarantine process” following senior aide Hope Hicks’ positive test Thursday.

Stock futures plunged in early Friday trading after the announcement. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted over 500 points.

While the news that the president had tested positive for Covid-19 came as a jolt — medical experts said it shouldn’t have.

In recent weeks, Trump, 74, has held mass gatherings, some indoors, and shunned mask use while claiming the end of the virus was just around the corner.

In turn, his staff, his family members, and his supporters have followed his lead. As recently as Tuesday evening at the first presidential debate, Trump family members and other members of the administration did not wear masks inside the hall, despite a rule mandating that members of the audience wear them.

“This was avoidable,” said NBC News contributor Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist and global health policy expert. “No masking, no distancing — what did they expect was going to happen?” Gupta said.

Now the White House has the massive job of trying to contract trace all of the people the president and his staff have met with over the last several days.

As of Thursday, more than 7.3 million Covid-19 cases had been confirmed in the U.S. and more than 208, 000 Americans have died because of the illness, according to NBC News’ count.

Of course, Trump is not the first world leader to succumb to Covid-19.

Six months ago, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 55, tested positive during the height of the pandemic in the U.K.. After initially downplaying the severity of his illness, Johnson ended up in the hospital for a week — including in an intensive care unit where he received oxygen for several days.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro also tested positive in July after months of dismissing the disease.

Meantime many of those leaders, as well private citizens, have sent the president and first lady their well wishes

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